Red Sox send Lugo to Cards for Duncan

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Because you can never trade for just one left-handed hitting, first
baseman-type with a career OPS in the low 800s whose father was a
former All-Star pitcher and whose brother is also a professional
baseball player.

Ever without the historical similarities, it is fascinating that the
Red Sox traded for two such similar players in one day in getting Chris
Duncan and Adam LaRoche. However, while LaRoche is coming over to play
a significant role down the stretch, Duncan is likely being looked at
strictly as insurance. It’s no secret that he’s hurting, and the
Cardinals had just optioned him to the minors. The Red Sox will likely
assign him to Triple-A Pawtucket until an injury opens up a spot.

This trade for Boston was more about getting rid of Julio Lugo. The
Mets appeared interested in signing him as a free agent, but the
Cardinals were willing to part with Duncan and a player to be named.
Duncan wouldn’t seem to have a role in Boston’s plans, but he’s more
depth for a team obsessed with it. The 28-year-old has hit
.257/.348/.458 in 1,147 major league at-bats. He got off to a great
start this year, hitting .304/.417/.522 in April, but he hadn’t done
much of anything since. He was 1-for-27 this month, giving him a season
line of .227/.329/.358.

Duncan is making $825,000 this year as a super-two player. He
probably won’t be due more than $1 million-$1.2 million in 2010, which
should give him some trade value. He’d be a nice platoon option at that
price.

Lugo figures to be just about free for the Cardinals, as the Red Sox
were willing to pick up most or all of the approx. $13.5 million he was
due through the end of next year. He will likely take the spot of the
newly recalled Brian Barden on the St. Louis roster and play behind
Brendan Ryan at shortstop. The Cards are sure to have him work out at
other positions as well, but since he hasn’t played anywhere besides
short since 2007, it could be some time before he’s an option at second
or third. Unfortunately, Lugo has displayed very little range
defensively since coming back from spring knee surgery. He may end up
outhitting Ryan, but he’d be an awfully weak regular unless his legs
come back.

Giolito spins 4-hit gem, White Sox shut out Astros

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HOUSTON (AP) Lucas Giolito was forced to speed up his pace near the end of his last start for the Chicago White Sox because of rain. The results were so good he decided to try it again Thursday night against the Houston Astros, even though there was no need to rush in the climate-controlled confines of Minute Maid Park.

The tactic certainly paid off.

Giolito pitched a four-hitter for his first major league shutout, rookie Eloy Jimenez hit his third homer in two games and the White Sox beat the Astros 4-0.

“In the last game in the fifth inning, I really picked up the tempo because it started raining,” he said. “I was like, why not just try and do that every time? So I was just getting in attack mode early, filling up the zone, and luckily I had my good stuff and we were able to mix sequences really well. It was a good one.”

Chicago manager Rick Renteria was asked what superlative he would use to describe Giolito’s performance.

“Every one that’s in your book that you can put on a page,” he said. “If there was 1,000 of them, use all 1,000.”

Yoan Moncada had an RBI double and Tim Anderson added a run-scoring single for the White Sox, who earned a four-game series split by handing Houston its first set of consecutive losses since May 1-2.

Giolito (6-1) struck out a season-best nine and walked one in winning his fourth start in a row and fifth straight decision.

“He was doing really anything he wanted to,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said. “He was really good, so hats off to him for coming in and throwing all of his pitches for strikes. He’s changed his delivery, his arm action a little bit. He came in and really commanded the game from the very beginning.”

It was the first nine-inning complete game by a White Sox pitcher since Chris Sale beat Kansas City 7-4 in September 2016, and their first complete-game shutout since Sale threw a two-hitter in a 1-0 win at Tampa Bay on April 15, 2016.

In his previous outing last Saturday, Giolito was credited with his first career complete game when he beat Toronto 4-1 in a game called after 4 1/2 innings because of rain. After that one, the 24-year-old right-hander said he didn’t consider it a complete game until he went nine innings.

Didn’t take him long to check that box, too.

Giolito threw 82 of his season-high 107 pitches for strikes against a first-place team that began the day leading the majors with an .860 OPS and had homered in 19 consecutive games.

All the hits Giolito allowed were singles. Previously, his longest start was 7 1/3 innings.

“The Astros are a team I always look forward to facing,” Giolito said. “A lot of good hitters in that lineup. It’s always a fun challenge. They won a World Series a couple of years ago so when you do well against them, it makes you feel pretty good about yourself.”

Jimenez, who was 0 for 7 in the first two games of the series before hitting two homers in a win Wednesday night, connected off fellow rookie Corbin Martin (1-1) for a solo shot in the fourth inning that made it 4-0.

Martin gave up six hits and four runs over 3 1/3 innings in his third career start.

Yolmer Sanchez, who had three hits, doubled to start the third before Martin walked Charlie Tilson. Moncada followed with an RBI double to put Chicago up 1-0. A single by Anderson came next to score Tilson. Moncada scored on an error by Martin when his pickoff attempt to first was high.

Missing injured sluggers Jose Altuve and George Springer, the Astros couldn’t get anything going on offense. Their streak of 19 straight games with at least one home run was tied for the longest stretch in franchise history.

Michael Brantley hit his second single for Houston with two outs in the sixth. Giolito retired Carlos Correa to end that inning and pitched a perfect seventh before Max Stassi singled to start the eighth. Giolito struck out Jake Marisnick and Josh Reddick before Alex Bregman lined out to end the inning.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: Springer, who has missed the last four games with stiffness in his lower back, took batting practice on the field and will likely return Friday night, Hinch said. … Altuve (hamstring) continues to make improvement but there still isn’t a target date for his return.

TOUGH ON RIGHT-HANDERS

Anderson had two hits and a walk and is batting .344 against right-handers, which leads the AL.

THEY SAID IT

Jimenez on hitting three home runs in two games: “It’s been good. It means a lot. It’s more fun coming (to the park). It’s just the beginning of something good.”

UP NEXT

White Sox: RHP Reynaldo Lopez (3-4, 5.14 ERA) starts Friday when Chicago opens a three-game series against the AL Central-leading Twins. Lopez has been strong in his last three starts, posting a 2.29 ERA.

Astros: LHP Wade Miley (4-2, 3.51) is scheduled to start Friday in the opener of a three-game series with Boston. He didn’t factor in the decision last time out when he allowed seven hits and three runs – two earned – in five innings of a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox.

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